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5 Best Practices for Managing Remote Sales Teams

Mar 26, 2020
5 min read
The world’s current situation means many companies are transitioning to fully remote sales teams. Here are five best practices from experts to make the adjustment run smoothly.

We’re in an unprecedented and unique situation in today’s world, to say the least. Many companies are transitioning to fully remote workforces for the first time ever, and it’s not coming without its challenges. The biggest hurdle, perhaps, is getting remote sales teams adjusted and operating at full capacity in uncharted territory—an entirely virtual world. 

But there are some organizations that operate this way all of the time, and for them, today’s unfortunate circumstances are a tad more “business as normal” than the rest of us. Chili Piper, Inc. for example, was founded in 2016 as a fully remote company. They meet regularly over video conference calls, hold virtual happy hours, and run every aspect of their business without ever setting foot in a physical conference room. 

To help other enterprises make the move to fully remote sales teams, they held a live Q&A forum on LinkedIn. In the session, they shared best practices for operating virtually, and sales leaders from several different companies chimed in with what they’re doing to make the transition for their teams smoother. 

Here are five key best practices for effectively manage remote sales teams:

5 Best Practices to Manage Remote Sales Teams

1. Make Communication a Top Priority

“Always OVER-COMMUNICATE. Make sure your team stays in touch with each other, way beyond what’s necessary to get the job done. You want a buzz of back and forth, ideas and banter flowing, [and] a lively exchange of questions and feedback.” - Steli Efti, CEO of Close

2. Sync With Your Team Daily

“We still have games and things we do to incentivize people. A lot of it is focused on building strong skill sets. With the SDR team, we have daily huddles [to maintain culture and community].” - Michael Tuso, Director of Revenue Performance at Chili Piper 

“We have added a daily pull up to kick off our day. The pull up is led by a different team member each day with a topic and message of their choice.” - Matt Pflughoeft, Vice President of Sales at Tethr

3. Be Flexible with Work Schedules 

“Work the times you’re most productive. With the current situation, we should encourage people to work the times they’re most productive.” - Nate Branscome, Strategic Account Executive at Chili Piper

“Being remote, I actually work a different set of work hours. Working whatever hours are best for me that makes me the most productive.” - Liz Pouya, Relationship Manager at Chili Piper

4. Practice Empathy Amongst Your Team

“We’ve been going about [this entire situation] with empathy. Reaching out with “how can we help” [and offering] free coaching sessions. We’re really just trying to help out in this situation. We’re here to help and let us know if there’s any way we can.” - Eddie Beqaj, Senior Enterprise Account Executive at Replayz

“Ask people, “how are you doing?” “What can we do for you?” Let people know that as a company [you] are here for them.” - Leah Levitte, Head of Sales Enablement at HHAeXchange

“In our opening huddle with my team, everyone talks about something they’re grateful for. We’re also doing icebreakers, which devolves into funny stories.” - Derek Jankowski, Director of Sales Development, PatientPop Inc.

Discover more ways you can practice empathy in our recent blog from Xactly VP of Brand and Public Relations, Mary Jo Rose.

5. Make Fun and Team Bonding a Priority

“We created a virtual background of the office [and are] really encouraging people to use them. [We also set up] watercooler virtual cafes so people can drop in whenever.” - Monica Knoblaugh, Field Marketing Coordinator, Fleetsmith

“With everyone cooped up in their apts, I’ve been compiling a list of different companies offering different free trials and sharing them so that everyone can find things to do within their interests.” - Keith Schneider, VP Executive Recruiter at Engro Partners

Making The Remote Workforce Adjustment Easier

Working with remote teams is a big change—especially when the timeframe is uncertain. No one knows the true outcome and how it will impact sales in the long run. Luckily, we’re all in this together and can team up to tackle these challenges. Here’s how two of Xactly’s customers, Slack and Zoom, are making it easier for all of us to adjust in these difficult times.

Slack Helping Keep Communication a Priority

Slack was founded to keep teams in contact with each other and is a central place for workplace communication. In fact, the company was created with a focus on remote communication.

“The Slack you know today—both the product and company—would not exist without remote work. Our original team had two fully remote employees; the rest of the team was split between two offices in two different countries. This created a style of work that is deeply embedded in our culture, and it is one that ensures that being separated from our teammates does not impact our ability to do our jobs.” - Cal Henderson, Slack co-founder and CTO

With many businesses transitioning to remote operations, the company is working to ensure teams can stay in touch and communicate effectively. 

“From my team’s perspective, we want to make sure that the experience is as simple to understand and get on-boarded as possible” - Jaime DeLanghe, Slack Director of Product Management

In addition to their free plan, Slack is offering 20-minute set up calls, webinar trainings, and a remote working resource hub. Nonprofits can also access Standard and Plus upgrades for the next three months free of charge. Read more about Slack’s business continuity plans here.

We use Slack regularly to communicate across our entire organization. But we’ve recently kicked off the Xactly Grokker Olympics over Slack to stay in touch and ensure there is a healthy amount of friendly competition while working remotely. 

Zoom Connecting Teams Around the Globe

Like Slack, Zoom was created to simplify how people communicate and aims to provide “the ability to collaborate using the devices they already have and provides multiple channels of communication when travel and connectivity are limited.”

Here’s what Eric S. Yuan, Zoom CEO had to say about helping businesses operate in today’s challenging circumstances:  

“It’s my responsibility as Zoom’s CEO — and Zoom’s unique responsibility as a company — to do everything in our power to support those impacted by the coronavirus outbreak by committing our reliable technology, expanded access, and agile customer service.”

To help teams stay connected remotely, Zoom is lifting the 40-minute meeting limit on free plans in affected areas and providing free licenses for afflicted industries, including education, healthcare, and more. 

Zoom has also created a resource hub with tutorials, best practices, and daily demos to ensure each user gets the most out of the tool. Read more about Zoom’s support during the COVID-19 pandemic here.

At Xactly we’ve started hosting virtual happy hours to stay connected with our teams while working fully remotely. We’ve made sure to keep conversations light and fun (no work discussions) and give all of the dogs, cats, and other pets their needed screen time. 

Discover more ways you can stay motivated and productive while remote (or anywhere) in our Guide to Using Data to Drive Performance.

  • Sales Coaching and Motivation
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The Xactly News Team reports on the latest product, events and market trends taking place within Xactly and throughout the revenue intelligence industry.